St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Friday, April 18, 2014

First Syrup Batch

Finally finished off the first batch of maple syrup--about 6 gallons.  The sap ran well yesterday and today and we have about 200 gallons on hand that we began cooking for the second batch after taking off the first one this evening. 

Probably one more day of sap running and then it will be too warm and possibly be the end of the season.  We have 75 taps out and in an average year, we should get 75 quarts of syrup (or about 15 gallons).  We started a little late due to the heavy snow so if we get one more day of sap, I would say we would be just under an average year for syrup. 

Although there is still a lot of snow on the ground, it is melting fast and quite muddy and slippery in the woods.  For whatever reason, we have found that sap runs great after a late spring snow. 

Silver Maple budded out.  Sugar maples are very late to bud, but when they do, the flavor changes and syrup season is over.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

April 16th Snowstorm

Snow started yesterday morning and continued through most of the day and night.  Here we probably got about 18 inches total, although it is hard to tell as it drifted a lot.  The driveway ranged from 18-24 inches.  

Had taken the snow blower off the cub cadet for the summer.  It only took me about 30 minutes to get it back on and hardly any persuasive words.  Two bolts, two pins, and a belt that you drive into.  However, getting them lined up as they tighten into the belt is fraught with peril.  Using jacks, pry bars, and finesse, it went better than I expected!

The birds are thick around the feeders this morning.   Some photos of today including the goose on the nearby pond who honked and watched me the whole time. 

Morning hair

A goose honking this morning does not seem happy with the pond

West of the tree line was sheltered and only 8 inches of snow

In the evening the field pond had several geese. 

Put some sun flower seeds on the driveway for traction!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lake Ice

Too cold for sap to run today, so went for a walk along the lake shore and into the woods.  I found the edge of the lake with the high water flooding the shoreland fascinatingly picturesque, and took a bunch of photos to share.   

 Water's edge is normally the cattails
 The water is clear under the ice

Tracks on the underside of the ice from ?

                   The mole has left a trail on the shoreline

Monday, April 14, 2014

Automobiles and Maple Sap

Picked up the 99 Hyundai at Jensen's garage in Cushing.  Dale put on a new flex coupler in the exhaust to quiet it down so I can hear the radio or Margo talking.  "Engines mounted sideways in a car twist back and forth as you accelerate and break off the exhaust pipes without a flexible joint somewhere in the line," Dale explained, "some have it where they connect to the engine--hard to get to, and some, like yours, have it under the car easily accessible." 
I swapped Scott's car for the Hyundai, as I had borrowed it to drive to Luck to spend my Monday pm volunteering for the Polk Genealogy society as I have for a year now.  Scott told me, "you can hear the high pitched sound of metal on metal when you turn, probably the front break disk pads worn down."  Most disk break pads have a metal tang in the pad that gets exposed when the pads wear down giving the metal on metal sound that is a warning to replace them before long.  They get noisier and noisier and eventually, if you have any high frequency hearing left, you have to have a hole in the muffler or a loud radio to cover it up.
 "Would you balance the front tires too," I asked Dale, "I noticed at 65 mph the front right one seems to shake a little."  I had an appointment for the Hyundai Monday and the Acclaim for Tuesday, and if nothing else is wrong, Scott and I will pick up his car Tuesday at closing time.  Dale is pretty quick with brakes and exhaust problems and does a good work at a decent price.  Grandpa took his cars to Harold (Dale's grandfather) as did Dad (Dad bought his 51 Chev from Harold back when Jensen's had the Chev dealership).  I took my 1967 Rambler Rogue to Bud (Dale's dad), back in those days, and so it seams reasonable for Scott to have Dale fix his car nowadays. 
   After getting the cars swapped, I joined Scott at the cabin to collect sap.  It ran a little, about 60 gallons of sap in about 75 buckets.  Some ran good and many didn't run at all.  This week looks like our best chance of getting some syrup.  Instead of putting out the 200 buckets (we have 400) we did last year, we got discouraged and only put out 75 this year.  In a normal year, 75 buckets means 75 quarts of syrup--18 gallons of syrup--plenty for what we use and give away and sell.  

    Photos today from the Orr Lake Sugarbush. 
Didn't get warm enough today to melt the ice in the bucket.  The wind blew in some bark and leaves

Scott and the 1947 Ford 2N

Crack/wound in a maple oozes sap that freezes in icicles on the side of the tree or on broken limbs

Every low spot has a pond.  On Saturday with the warm temperatures, the frogs were chirping in the bigger ponds. 

What happens when you forget to remove a spile (tap) from the tree.  About 10 years and the 1.5 inch spile has almost disappeared.  I left it as a lesson to Margo to be more careful!

Took Grandpa's 1970s Cub Cadet for its first drive this year -- back into the woods.  It purred along wonderfully.  I took an old set of car chains from the 1938 Chev (replaced by the 1951 Chev) and cut them down for the back.  On our farm, everything is in a shed somewhere including the fender skirts for the 51 Chev and the chains for the 1933 Chevrolet.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Water Headed Down the St Croix River

Took another short drive along the River Road to see the ice floating down the river from above Grantsburg--not much there!

 A few ice floes at Nevers Dam

Early green plants on the south slopes
Below some beautiful green berries at Spangler's Landing (poison ivy).  

Some ice held back at St Croix Falls

 Water over the dam and an partially opened gate (the Bear Trap). 

Wolf creek is over its banks below Evergreen Av

Trade River is pouring over the Atlas Dam headed north to the St Croix River

All the lowlands are flooded and water headed down hill to the St Croix River.